Searching around for a space-saving alternative to a regular stationary table and chairs, one finds all sorts of design styles but it seems that only a few configurations are possible when looking for a dining set that folds up.
The most common setup has a table and benches that fold down from the wall or a wall hung box. Sometimes called a Murphy table, they basically function in the same way, although one can find modern to rustic in terms of style.
The second type of fold out dining set is an independent unit that is usually on rollers. These units can also include stools and benches.
Another type of folding set hinges from a wall or a cabinet connected to a wall and suspends the table surface from a cable from the wall or ceiling.
The advantage of suspending a table surface from a ceiling is that when constructed with pulleys, the table can be raised out-of-the-way. However, the disadvantage is that the surface will swing unless anchored in some way. Attached to a wall will give a lot of stability.
There is another system that has a hinged support that folds out horizontally from the wall and supports the surface. This is good for small surfaces and desks but not for anything substantial unless one has a solid metal frame or a robust support. People have used wood doors cut to size and then hinged to provide adequate support. A good piece of 3/4″ plywood will work as well.
In terms of fold out tables and dining sets, there is nothing new under the sun. At any rate, this article will attempt to show you in detail how you might make your own table by illustrations and instructions.
What will be attempted here is a table used for dinning in a small space which when not in such use can easily be turned into a desk, especially one that can fit up against a wall to consume as little space as possible. The other characteristic that we will look for is an independent unit that we can move.
The following illustrations provide the instructions to construct a piece of furniture that will furnish two iterations, a dining table and a desk. However, keep in mind that the basic instructions here can be expanded to create a much larger table. In an effort to keep things as simple as possible and to use as few resources as necessary, the scope of the design has been restricted.
From this point on, we will call the unhinged side that we saw as the “front” and the hinged base sides as “sides”. The side we have yet to see, we will call the “back”. The back is where the table top will hinge down to rest against the legs to shorten the piece into a desk.
The place to start is with the front and back base support structure. These, as well as the sides, are formed with 1 x 4 lumber (3/4″ x 3-1/2″) and attached with pocket hole joinery and glue.
Once the front and back are made, the sides come next.
Since the sides are held together by hinges, we first secure a 28-1/4″ length of 1 x 4 at each corner with pocket joints and glue (or by wood or construction screws if you desire a different method).
Hinges are applied to the side leg supports and the 1′ sections which will start to form the collapsible section of the frame.
On the outside middle of the side a hinge connects the front and back sections which are attached to the side legs. The hinge is mounted to the outside and not the inside. On the inside, we have hinges on both the side legs. This allows for the section to fold in.
The base is finished and is ready for the table top in two pieces.
The hinges fit in the center of the separation between the two 2′ x 4′ table top sections and on the seam close to the edge on each side. The two pieces should be centered both front and back on the base with the front section of the table top attached to the front frame as shown in the above illustration. This prevents the top from moving but allows for the back section to fold down when this furniture is used as a desk. To restate: Only the front section is permanently attached.
Because of the length of this article, I did not include a design for a folding chair–even though I have one. Actually, a set of folding chairs is not tremendously expensive to purchase at many locations which is most likely the best solution. Nevertheless, I will include instructions on a folding chair in a short while. And possibly the very attractive one in the above illustrations, as well.
- Pocket hole joint kit with screws for 1-1/2″ material.
- Exterior glue.
- (Optional) 2-1/4 to 2-1/2″ wood or construction screws if not using pocket hole joinery for the side legs.
- Obviously, 1 sheet of plywood or other sheet material in 4′ x 4′ dimensions for the table top.
- Four 1 x 4 x 8′ lumber for the frame. The frame can also be made of plywood by cutting out lengths that match the cut list below.
- Nine hinges (around 4″ to 5″).
- (Optional) Nail sliders or gliders or some other method of separating the bottom of the furniture from the floor.
- Drill. (Remember to pre-drill if using wood or construction screws.)
- Circular saw or Jigsaw for cutting sheet material.
- A straight edge or guide for cutting sheet material.
- Pocket hole screwdriver and/or drill bit.
- Device for measuring the boards and carpenter’s pencil.
- A router if rounding or beveling the edges.
Note: The Materials and Tools list do not include paint, stain, and finishing supplies since these will vary considerably depending on your choice of how this piece of furniture will look. However, to save on labor, an electric sander is highly recommended.